Nearly 25% of pre-primary-aged children live in countries affected by emergencies and only 1 in 3 children in these contexts was enrolled in pre-primary education in 2019 (UNICEF). According to a recent Theirworld report, the situation may be even more dire for refugee children, for whom early childhood education (ECE) coverage is likely lower than in their host communities.
Children in crisis and conflict settings face compounded risks to their healthy development, stemming from multiple adverse experiences, which may include exposure to violence, forced displacement, migration and resettlement in new settings, and poverty.
Prolonged, severe adversity puts these children at even greater risk of toxic stress, leading to short- and long-term negative impacts on their physical, mental, cognitive and emotional development (Center on the Developing Child, 2007).
Early childhood interventions work
The good news is that the right investments can make a huge difference – not just for young children, but for the larger communities in which they live.
Long-term research has shown that quality support in the early years for young children and their caregivers can provide tremendous returns – up to 13% per year – through improved education, health and economic outcomes.